Key to Umbria: Spoleto

St Gabriel Possenti (27th February) 

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St Gabriel (Francis Possenti) was born in Assisi in 1838 and was baptised in the Duomo there, at the font that had been used for the baptism of St Francis.  His family moved to Spoleto in 1841.  He suffered the loss of his mother when he was six and of four of his siblings before he was 18.  The last of these to die was his sister Mary Louisa, in a cholera epidemic that swept Spoleto in 1856.  It was during a procession of the SS Icone at the end of the epidemic that he decided to take religious vows.

He joined the Passionist Congregation in 1856 and was given the name of Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (Gabriele dell' Addolorata) in honour of an image that had belonged to his mother.  He was probably already suffering from tuberculosis by this time.  He died and was buried at Isola del Gran Sasso in the Abruzzi  in 1862.

Pope Benedict XV canonised him in 1920 and declared him a model for young people.  His relics are in a shrine at Gran Sasso.